Asylum-seeker boat reportedly sinking off Christmas Island?

Asylum-seeker boat reportedly sinking off Christmas Island?

Asylum-seeker boat reportedly sinking off Christmas Island?

Written by Bella Dalima

27 Jun, 2014 | 3:51 pm

Passengers claiming to be refugees say they are in a leaking boat 300 kilometres off Christmas Island after spending two weeks at sea during a non-stop journey from India.

After being contacted by a refugee advocate, Fairfax Media spoke to two of the 153 people allegedly on board the boat, who told of their plight via satellite phone.

A female passenger, who identified as Tamil, said the boat was carrying 31 children and 32 women.

‘‘We need some help,’’ she said. ‘‘We are refugees.’’

The woman said they did not pay any money to board the boat, which she said had left from Puducherry in the south of India on June 13.

Another man who spoke Tamil came to the phone, saying: ‘‘We have come to Christmas Island because we don’t have anything. We have travelled all the way from India.’’

‘‘The boat is damaged. It is leaking,’’ he said. ‘‘There are children, including infants and we are unable to manage.’’

Asylum seekers on board the boat say they were given rice and fish by Indonesian fishing boats.

No vessel carrying asylum seekers has successfully reached Australian shores since December 19.

This boat will likely pose a major challenge to the government’s turn-back policy, given it has not departed from Indonesia nor stopped to pick up supplies anywhere closer to Australia during its two-week journey.

 

Source: WA today

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